The Nigerian economic crisis is getting deeper and there seems to be no succinct plans in sight to curb the continuous degradation of the economy. Nigeria is one of the largest crude oil producing nations and 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings are generated from crude oil sales.
In June 2008, crude oil peaked at $147.42 a barrel, the highest in the history of the world. Nigerian foreign reserve likewise grew from $45 billion to $63 billion in September 2008 before the global economic situation hit the embattled nation in November 2008, when oil price dropped to $32.40 a barrel.
The problems of Nigeria’s economy was further compounded when U.S oil production increased, and therefore stopped importation from Nigeria in 2014. In December 2014, India (who had replaced the U.S) also reduced its importation by 38 percent to 5.3 million barrels — from 13.7 million in October and 12.4 million in November. China did not import a single barrel for the said month after initially reducing its importation by 50.3 percent.
There were several effects on the economy of Nigeria (home to over 170 million people) for two reasons: firstly, Nigeria only had contractual agreements with a few countries and as such sell on “spot”, two, the country overly depends on crude oil to finance capital expenditures and with crude oil price currently $48.08 a barrel from last year’s peak of $107.64 on June 13th. The question is how would Nigeria avert her economy rout with falling oil price?
Since the drop in oil price globally, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has adjusted its exchange rate five times, even after the introduction of tight forex controls in February; the latest was on Thursday July 23rd, ahead of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. The currency exchange rate is presently 197 to the United States dollar and CBN promised it would be sold to customers through interbank at 198. It’s a different story at the parallel market where Naira is 244 to a U.S dollar.
Data partly gotten from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Economic Review and Outlook Report.
In the past months, over 20 states has reportedly failed to pay their worker’s salary, a situation termed a disgrace by the president Muhammadu Buhari who was forced to devise a bailout of $3.4 billion to offset the deficit of the affected states — in an effort to curtail further civil actions from civil servants.
The Nigeria GDP rose to $594.3 billion for the first time in 2014 and became the biggest economy in the whole of Africa. According to report from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the service sector contributed the most, 42.6 percent to the total GDP, while industry was 25.6 percent, agriculture and oil sectors made up 20.6 and 11.2 percent respectively. The report shows that service is the fastest growing sector followed by industrial sector. The agricultural sector growth rate has been hindered by lack of finance and limited skilled labour — many preferring to work in the lucrative oil sector of the country.
The economy has been impeded by lack of a diversification strategy that could leverage its vast resources and man-power for growth. Excessive focus on crude oil has created a one way foreign revenue channel, that any slight fluctuation in global oil price (beyond Nigeria’s control) impacts the entire nation. It is obvious that Nigeria cannot continue to depend on oil for growth. The NBS report has shown that oil growth was only 6.3 percent and contributed only 11.2 percent to the entire GDP —the lowest among the sectors. The truth is Nigeria is currently surviving on sectors with less focused attention, but one wonder why due diligence is not done to elevate those sectors in order to create a permanent solution to oil’s unpredictable nature?
PayPal Acquires Happy Returns Logistics Business
PayPal announced that it’s acquiring Happy Returns, a returns solution provider that offers online shoppers access to easier ways to send back unwanted merchandise to retailers without having to box it up and ship it themselves.
The company today offers a network of over 2,600 drop-off returns locations in the U.S., including those in over 1,200 metros and in every U.S. state.
It also has relationships with hundreds of brands that have been using its returns software and reverse logistics services. The company says it will continue to offer its returns experience to online retailers and shoppers as a part of PayPal.
Founded in 2015, Santa Monica-based Happy Returns’ value proposition was to take some of the overhead and cost out of the returns process for online retailers. Because online shoppers can’t inspect items they buy directly, online retail tends to see higher return rates, especially in apparel. Happy Returns found that online items are 3 to 4 times as likely to be returned than those purchased in-store, for example.
Meanwhile, today’s retailers have to compete with giants like Amazon and Walmart, both of which enable returns more easily for their customers by way of their large brick-and-mortar footprints — Amazon with Whole Foods other locations, and Walmart with its own stores. In fact, the foot traffic that offering an Amazon returns desk or locker system in-store has led retailers like Kohl’s and Stein Mart to embrace the enemy by catering to shoppers with Amazon returns in their own stores.
Today, the Happy Returns solution offers a combination of software, services and logistics that allows retailers to manage their returns through their own retail stores, by the carrier, as well as through Happy Returns’ “Return Bar” locations. These are found in physical retail stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table, Cost Plus World Market, and others. The service has been used by several digitally native brands, including Everlane, Rothy’s, and Parachute Home, among others.
Happy Returns has also been closely working with PayPal throughout its history, it notes. And notably, PayPal made a strategic investment in the business in 2019, as part of an $11 million financing round.
Following the deal’s close, Happy Returns will continue to work with retailers and shoppers both on and off PayPal’s platform, it says. The company’s co-founders, David Sobie and Mark Geller, and its full 120+ team will join PayPal and will report to Frank Keller, VP Consumer In-Store and Digital Commerce at PayPal.
PayPal is not disclosing the deal terms. To date, Happy Returns had raised $25 million in funding.
“This is an incredibly exciting milestone for our company, and it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire team,” an announcement on Happy Returns’ website reads. “We are so proud of what our team has accomplished and are grateful for the tenacity, creativity and empathy Happy Returns employees bring to work each day. We are confident that the best is yet to come, and are looking forward to our next chapter as part of the PayPal organization.”
MoneyGram and Coinme Partner to Expand Access to Bitcoin
MoneyGram International, a global leader in cross-border P2P payments and money transfers, and Coinme Inc., the largest licensed cryptocurrency cash exchange in the U.S., announced the launch of a new partnership to enable the cash funding and payout of digital currency purchases and sales.
The partnership, which utilizes MoneyGram’s modern, mobile and API-driven payments platform and Coinme’s proprietary cryptocurrency exchange and custody technology, will bring bitcoin to thousands of new point-of-sale locations in the U.S., with plans to expand to select international markets in the second half of 2021.
“This innovative partnership opens our business to an entirely new customer segment as we are the first to pioneer a crypto-to-cash model by building a bridge with Coinme to connect bitcoin to local fiat currency,” said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram Chairman and CEO. “Our unique, global network is an incredibly valuable asset, and we’re excited to open our platform to Coinme as we increasingly look to capture new growth by monetizing our network to new use-cases.”
Global cash on and off-ramps ensure access to bitcoin
The MoneyGram and Coinme integration will provide a fast and easy way for customers to purchase bitcoin with cash and withdraw bitcoin holdings in cash. It is specially designed for customers who may be interested in utilizing bitcoin for the first time. With less than 20,000 cryptocurrency kiosks in the world today, the MoneyGram and Coinme partnership will further expand access to bitcoin and potentially other digital currencies by creating thousands of new point-of-sale locations to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
“MoneyGram has spent more than 80 years building one of the world’s largest P2P payment networks,” said Neil Bergquist, Coinme CEO. “By integrating its global infrastructure with our licensed crypto exchange technology, we can enable the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies across its system using cash. This is a major milestone for the bitcoin and cryptocurrency communities, and for the millions of people who will benefit from a trusted, easy and affordable onramp to digital currency.”
The service will be available at select MoneyGram locations starting in the U.S. in the coming weeks. Additional countries and cryptocurrencies will be made available shortly thereafter.
International Breweries To Train 500 Young Entrepreneurs Through Kickstart Initiative
As part of its commitment to bringing people together for a better world and its objective of delivering impactful, developmental and sustainable projects, International Breweries Plc through its social investment arm, International Breweries Foundation has launched the 6th edition of its Kickstart entrepreneurship programme recently.
The initiative is targeted at enterprise growth and development for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
During a media briefing to update the public on the process of this year’s edition, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha expressed delight that the Kickstart Initiative had evolved from the regional programme it used to be, to an inclusive national programme that reaches the six geopolitical zones and 36 states of Nigeria.
“Over the years, we have held the conviction that the energy, zeal, and brilliance of the youths of Nigeria who constitute about 70 percent of the total population should be tapped and channelled to productive use. This is the logic behind Kickstart – to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among young people through training, provision of capital and mentorship,” Rocha said.
Rocha concluded his remarks on a high note, stating that, “as International Breweries celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, I am pleased that the results of a 3-year impact assessment study that we commissioned on Kickstart came out positive and gives us the confidence to continue to support young people to achieve their dream of entrepreneurship. We remain steadfast in our commitment towards the economic development of Nigeria”
Also speaking at the press conference, Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Peter Bamkole explained that International Breweries Plc and its foundation is dedicated to continuing to contribute its quota towards tackling the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty while promoting Decent Work and Economic Growth in line with Goad 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDGs).
“By creating Kickstart, International Breweries Foundation set out to be the nursery of innovation in a business where budding enterprise managers are groomed—held by the hand and taken through the rigour of entrepreneurial work. We aim to produce well-rounded entrepreneurs who understand and are prepared to put in the work it takes to do business successfully in a unique climate like ours.” Bamkole said.
Over the past five years, the Kickstart initiative has provided training, mentoring, and seed capital of N325,136 million (in total) for 274 grantees; 708 direct beneficiaries and 2,832 indirect beneficiaries across a wide range of business sectors; with the result of the creation of about 571 jobs and 1,392 new jobs projected across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Speaking on the mechanics of the award, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun revealed that the award is in three phases: the application phase, the training phase and the pitch fest phase which is the final selection of grantees by judges.
She explained that the Kickstart Initiative will be incorporating an expansive training module that will train 500 young entrepreneurs online, with a number of them going into the bootcamp. This year’s edition also features a streamlined search for entrepreneurs into Agriculture, Modular Retailing, Circular Packaging (Recycling), Technology, and Renewable Energy sectors.
“After a transparent selection process on the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) platform via the link, https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/kickstart-nigeria-2021, which will open on the 20th of May, successful applicants will be equipped with critical skills and training on entrepreneurship by experienced entrepreneurs and corporate professionals during a 2-day boot camp. They will partake at the pitch fest where a panel of judges will appraise their proposals before final selection. Winners of the pitch fest will then be awarded grants at the awards ceremony in Lagos,” Oguntokun noted.
The press launch which held last week in Lagos had in attendance dignitaries such as the Director for Employment, Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Iyabo Seriki-Bello, Director of Partnerships and Coordination for Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria; Dr Friday Okpara; Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Mr Peter Bamkole; members of the International Breweries team, past Kickstart Alumni, mentors and a host of others joining online.
Following its trajectory of success, impact over the years, and its extensive yet immersive plans for the 6th edition, Kickstart, under the auspices of International Breweries and its foundation is geared towards transforming Nigeria into an economic powerhouse through the impact of entrepreneurship.
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